Latest Business Car Manager News: Audi A3 Sportback: polished performance meets miserly tax burden

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The new Audi A3 is certainly impressive, even though it faces fierce competition from it's rivals. Business Car Manager has released a new detailed review about the Sportback.

In spite of all the developments under the skin, the new A3 doesn't look that different

Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI (105 PS) SE

The Audi A3 Sportback is the five-door version of the third-generation Audi A3 hatchback launched earlier this year.

The first five-door Audi A3, launched in 1999, kept the silhouette of the three-door car but since then Audi has increasingly tried to give the three-door and five-door models separate identities.

The second-generation car, which came along in 2005, had modified rear styling and was also given the Sportback name for the first time.

Now, with this third-generation model, the differences between the Sportback and the three-door increase again, most notably in the form of a stretch of 58mm (more than two inches) in the wheelbase, which means that the new car is a lot more serious about providing decent space for rear-seat passengers.

Audi says there will be no Avant estate version of the current A3, but the new Sportback, with its extended rear roof-line, already looks and feels like it is halfway into wagon territory anyway.

The latest Audi A3 will expand to a saloon version for the first time, though – and that one's coming to the UK despite our traditional preference for hatchbacks when it comes to smaller cars.

One reason for the increasing diversity of A3 models - the increased flexibility offered by Volkswagen's modular MQB chassis architecture, which also underpins the new VW Golf, SEAT Leon and forthcoming Skoda Rapid.

With the introduction of the Audi A3 Sportback comes the first chance to try some of the less powerful but more economical, low-CO2 versions of the A3 that will be of particular interest to tax-aware company car drivers, including the 1.2-litre turbocharged TSI petrol, and the car we're concentrating on here, the base 105 PS 1.6 diesel option which delivers 99g/km and 74.3 mpg.

What's hot?

  • The Audi A3 Sportback provides all the attributes of a big Audi in a compact and reasonably priced package. Sportback prices start at £19,825 and the 1.6 diesel costs from £20,775.
  • The usual Audi standards of quality are present – materials, fit and finish are all excellent.
  • Three trim levels are offered in the initial line-up – SE, Sport and S line, mirroring the range for the three-door car
  • SE models get 16-inch alloys, MMI (multimedia interface) with 5.8-inch dash screen, Bl • Sport models cost £1,225 more than the SE and add 17-inch alloys, two-zone climate control, sports seats, aluminium trim elements and Audi drive select, which allows drivers to tweak the car's set up for, for example, sporty or economical driving styles.
  • S line cars cost £2,150 more than Sport models but get 18-inch alloys, body mods, chrome tailpipe trims, half-leather seats and Xenon headlights with LED running lights.
  • Buyers who want a real load-lugger will be looking elsewhere but the bigger body makes this car more practical than its predecessor.
  • Weight savings associated with the switch to the MQB architecture mean better economy and more agile handling – especially with the smaller petrol engines.uetooth, aircon, and a leather steering wheel.
  • Sport models cost £1,225 more than the SE and add 17-inch alloys, two-zone climate control, sports seats, aluminium trim elements and Audi drive select, which allows drivers to tweak the car's set up for, for example, sporty or economical driving styles.
  • S line cars cost £2,150 more than Sport models but get 18-inch alloys, body mods, chrome tailpipe trims, half-leather seats and Xenon headlights with LED running lights.
  • Buyers who want a real load-lugger will be looking elsewhere but the bigger body makes this car more practical than its predecessor.
  • Weight savings associated with the switch to the MQB architecture mean better economy and more agile handling – especially with the smaller petrol engines.
  • Early petrol choices, all turbocharged, will include a 1.2 TFSI (105 PS), a 1.4 TFSI (122 PS) and a 1.8 TFSI (180 PS)
  • Early diesels are a 1.6 TDI (105 PS) and a 2.0 TDI (150 PS)
  • The 1.6 TDI delivers an impressive 99g/km and 74.3 mpg – and provides smooth, tractable performance as well as low running costs.
  • For company car drivers, the company car tax band for 2013/14 will only be 14%

What's not?

•While the A3's designers have worked hard to differentiate the Sportback from the three-door by giving it an extended wheelbase and roof-line, this car still conforms heavily to the Audi look. Many buyers will be reassured by that. Others will ask why the company couldn't be a bit more adventurous. Volvo's V40 has shown the way with a design that bears the unmistakable stamp of its maker but is also fresh and original at the same time.
•The A3's pricing is very competitive when set against that of premium rivals such as the BMW 1-Series, Mercedes A-Class and Volvo V40. But for anyone who doesn't care for badges, much of this car's technology is available in the cheaper, but still highly impressive, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon – not to mention the forthcoming Skoda Rapid.
•The diesel A3 Sportback’s 99g/km just misses the new 100% write down allowance tax break that arrives in April of 95g/km.

Business Car Manager road test verdict

The Audi A3 Sportback is another predictably polished effort from Audi and it has plenty to offer the company car driver; German quality, a prestige badge, and a decent environment in which to spend long days on the road.

That's especially true of the 105 PS 1.6 diesel which should have enough poke for most UK road conditions and still offers plenty of refinement. Low emissions of 99g/km will help on the business car tax front - and with a combined cycle fuel consumption of 74.3 mpg, the A3 Sportback should be an infrequent visitor to the pumps, so that will help hugely with business mileage costs.

On the other hand, with a revitalised Mercedes A-Class, the already established BMW 1 Series and the arrival of Volvo's V40, this car faces tougher competition than its predecessor – and one shouldn't forget the cheaper options from the Volkswagen stable such as the SEAT Leon, Skoda Rapid and VW Golf.

Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI (105 PS) – the low down

P11D Value £ n/a
Monthly business rental (ex VAT) From £n/a a month (3yrs/30,000 miles)
Company car tax bands 2012/13 to 2014/15    13%, 14%, 15%
BIK tax £n/a, £n/a, £n/a
Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
CO2    99 g/km
Power/torque 129bhp/ 300Nm
0-62mph    105 PS/ 250 Nm
Economy    74.3 mpg

Business Car Manager has a variety of useful guides including business car lease, business car profiles and detailed reviews including Vauxhall reviews among others.

For more information, visit Business car Manager at http://www.businesscarmanager.co.uk/.

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Conrad Swailes
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